How Much Does College Cost?

how much does college cost

How Much Does a College Education Cost?

The number one question that students and families ask about attending college is how much does college cost? The cost of attendance or COA is like the sticker price for college. Every year the cost of attendance goes up but merit and need based scholarships and grants can cover part of COA. College expenses can be tuition, fees, housing, books, supplies, transportation and other out of pocket expenses. 

According to NCES, the estimated total cost of college at a public institution is 17,237,  $44,551 at private nonprofit institutions, and $25,431 at private for-profit institutions in 2016-2017.     

Average Cost of College by State

Each year for every state the cost of attendance keeps rising. It's cheaper to attend an in state college rather than out of state. According to NCES, out of state students in US pay 32% more in COA for 2017-2018. That's an average of $6,200 in COA!  Also, the average cost of college varies between public and private institutions along with two vs four year schools. Keep in mind to calculate other costs such as housing, books, supplies, transportation and other personal expenses. 

Rhode Island has the highest in state average cost of college which costs $30,879. Wyoming offers the lowest in state average cost of college and costing at $3,385. The chart below shows the average cost of college in each state, in state tuition, out of state tuition, and net prices.

RankingStateIn State TuitionOut of State TuitionNet Cost
1Rhode Island$30,879$33,908$28,197
2Vermont$29,756$34,360$23,065
3Massachusetts$28,889$31,270$24,045
4District of Columbia $25,358$25,845$23,270
5Pennsylvania$22,391$24,570$21,183
6Indiana$21,215$24,366$18,634
7New Hampshire$21,005$25,670$21,408
8Connecticut$20,214$26,493$17,962
9Iowa$19,671$20,868$17,136
10New York$19,305$21,153$17,630
11Maine$18,314$21,781$16,985
12Illinois$16,915$20,325$15,390
13Oregon$16,379$21,351$16,924
14Wisconsin$16,615$19,155$16,286
15New Jersey$16,583$19,314$16,379
16Tennessee$16,468$19,941$17,208
17Ohio$16,425$18,972$17,653
18Virginia$16,336$20,265$17,976
19Minnesota$16,061$16,977$16,221
20Maryland$15,969$20,349$16,568
21Delaware$15,830$20,274$17,819
22Michigan$15,294$18,465$15,427
23Kentucky$15,016$19,422$14,720
24California$14,832$18,926$16,829
25Missouri$14,826$16,494$16,615
26Nebraska$14,554$15,696$17,517
27Florida$14,198$17,118$18,042
28South Carolina$14,031$18,493$15,184
29Washington$13,196$16,575$14,677
30Colorado$12,800$18,000$17,504
31Utah$12,758$16,198$18,657
32South Dakota $12,427$13,315$15,438
33Kansas$12,327$14,136$14,078
34Georgia$12,307$15,507$15,362
35North Carolina$12,086$16,214$14,590
36Nevada$11,885$16,355$18,761
37Texas$11,724$15,211$13,997
38West Virginia$11,446$15,080$12,149
39 Louisiana$11,320$14,996$15,029
40Oklahoma $11,104$15,254$13,575
41Idaho$10,922$15,771$15,715
42Alabama $10,393$13,996$13,882
43Arizona$9,793$14,600$14,093
44Hawaii$9,622$14,283$14,126
45Arkansas$9,046$11,219$11,672
46Alaska$8,789$14,279$11,735
47Mississippi$8,302$10,815$10,248
48Montana $7,629$13,142$11,713
49North Dakota $7,550$10,148$11,876
50New Mexico$7,154$10,695$9,983
51Wyoming$3,385$8,784$7,285

How Much Does it Cost to Study Abroad in College? 

The range of programs and countries makes it hard to get an exact bottom line on whether a college overseas is cheaper. Just like in the states, there are private and public colleges. Also, the cost of living varies in different countries and cities.

When you do your math, you want to factor in the expenses that go into study abroad programs. Apart from tuition and fees, you need money for housing, food, travel and transport to and from college. Also, there is insurance to cover medical, dental and travel.

You also want to factor in the exchange rate for US dollars and if you are eligible for financial aid. That said, there are countries that offer free college or very affordable tuition. So, you may be able to satisfy your wanderlust while saving money.

7 Countries with Free College or Affordable Tuition

1. Germany
Tuition is free in most states, but you pay tuition fees of about $1,622 USD, a semester contribution of up to $377 US and living costs. The average German student has expenses of $883 USD.

2. Iceland 
Tuition is free, but at public universities you pay an annual administration fee of about $600 USD and cost of living for food and housing of about $1,200 per month

3. Norway
Tuition is free at public universities, but you might have to pay fees ($100 USD) and the cost of living is high. Some students spend about $1,300 per month on food, housing and other living expenses.

4. Austria
If you have a Residence Permit – Student, the average per semester cost is $824 USD. Your housing costs (rent, food, etc) are additional expenses as well.

5. France
Public universities in France may cost from $165 to $971 USD per term. You also need at least $464 per month to survive but that is low and varies by region (Paris being on the high side).

6. Luxembourg
The University of Luxembourg is the only public university in the country. Here, you need a living budget of $1,319 USD. You also pay a registration fee of $423 for semesters 1 and 2. Then $216 for semesters 3 to 6.

7. Spain
Public universities in Spain may cost from $735 to $1385 but that’s on the rise and some people face tuition of about $2,270 per month. The average student also spends $972 per year on books alone, and cost of living is high in big cities like Madrid.